We took on an adventurous family project this weekend…lobster bisque. It was the perfect recipe for a rainy weekend (and a curious 11 year-old boy). Unlike stews and chowders, the flavor of bisque comes from the shells of the crustacean, not the meat. So, after a bit of research, it was determined that live lobsters were the way to go. However, that meant killing them ourselves by plunging a knife into the head and chest of the lobster, Julia Child-style. The lyrics "lobster killer" to the tune of "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads, from the movie Julie & Julia, keep playing through my mind. Verdict…it was DELICIOUS, relatively easy, and fun for the whole family. That said, it will be awhile before we do it again, my waistline can’t handle the calories or all of the bread dipped in to the bisque during dinner!
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
3-4 live lobsters (1 pound each)
4 tablespoons Cognac
1/2 cup flour
1 ½ cups white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry Sherry
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
5 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream
In a large stock pot, melt 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and add the carrots, shallots, celery and onions. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are very soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Place a cutting board inside a sheet pan (this will catch all the juices from the lobsters). Lay a lobster on the cutting board. Place the tip of a large, heavy knife at the indentation where the carapace meets the head of the lobster, making sure that the cutting blade is facing toward the lobster's eyes. Swiftly and forcefully, plunge the knife through the lobster until the point of the knife hits the cutting board. Immediately force the blade down, splitting the head of the lobster. (The lobster will be dead, although it may still move.) Repeat with the remaining lobsters.
Twist off the tails and claws of the lobsters. Split the bodies in half and scoop out and discard the spongy green parts in the head. Put the lobster head/shell bits and any juice that has accumulated in the sheet pan into the pot with the vegetables and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the shells are bright red, 8 to 10 minutes. Boil claws and tails in a separate pot of boiling water; once cooked remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool remove claws and tail meat from shells. Set lobster meat aside and add shells to stock pot.
Put stock pot back on stove and cook the shells for a few minutes over high heat. Add 4 tablespoons of the Cognac and ignite it. When the flames die, add flour. Stir in wine, stock, sherry, 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
Strain the stock through a fine sieve. Pour the stock in a large stockpot and add the cream Heat very gently, not allowing it to boil, until hot. Add chop lobster tails and claw meat to bisque. Heat through. Serve immediately. Serves 6